J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Notes From Underground - #44
Memorial Memories


It's Memorial Day weekend and that means the annual celebration of one of America's most patriotic moments - the Coca Cola 600. NASCAR. You heard me.

Well, at least where I'm from that's all that you remember about Memorial Day weekend. Mostly because of the traffic. I grew up a mere ten miles or so from the Charlotte Motor Speedway (now the Lowe's Motor Speedway) and, thanks to family members who worked for the Reynolds tobacco company, went to a 600 or two in my day as well. Still of great amusement to me is the moment when they drop the green flag. Sitting on my parents back porch, the kitchen television brought out so it's watchable in the screened confines of the deck, by the time they reach the second turn on the television after that flag drops, you can hear the dull roar come sailing over the trees from those miles away. Nowadays I just think of it as the pair of weekends (the Winston All-Star Race, as it was formerly known, is the weekend before) that I don't go visit my parents in order to avoid the hellacious traffic.

But despite not being a big NASCAR fan anymore, it's still a big cultural part of my upbringing. I know what it's like to pull for a driver (Bill Elliot) and to hate one with every ounce of your being (Dale Earnhardt). I know the excitement of the final laps, of standing on your feet to see the race back to the stripe that last time. And I have an inkling of the drive and passion that the drivers feel when they get in their cars every week to go at it. So this week, I thought of the Drive-by Truckers' "Daddy's Cup," one of the most eloquent songs about racing I could ever imagine.

Admittedly I know nothing about cars. Seriously. I mean, check the oil, check the air pressure, sure. Anything else? I could probably suss it out with a manual and a lot of help, but aside from gas mileage, my interest in cars is virtually nil. When I got my last computer, I took the hard drive out of the previous one and hooked it into the new computer to facilitate file transfers. That was about the closest I've gotten to the feeling people probably have when they work on cars.

So how does Mike Cooley manage to turn a song about growing up in a racing family, and all the tedium of working on and fixing a car that that entails, into an engrossing and emotional song that causes me to..sympathize..with the characters? Cooley's narrator has a dad who raises his son to do what he failed to do - to live vicariously through his potential. But he imparts a sense of perseverance in his child. Despite the fact that the song focuses on finding a deep love for stock car racing - something I don't feel personally - it makes connections. The universal in the personal. The mark of a good writer, for sure.

So I ask: what other pieces of art are there that you, for one reason or another, don't have any reason to find a personal connection with, but have affected you in an unexpected way?

By the way, just so it's clear, my hatred for Earnhardt extended to one and one moment only: the pass in the grass. I'm still sore.

Drive-by Truckers - "Daddy's Cup" (live at the 40 Watt)

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1 Comments:

  • At 10:58 PM, May 23, 2008, Anonymous S. said…

    Next week you should write about the song "Hot Rod Lincoln." It'll be a series. Get it?

     

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